Here’s another instalment of the Fan Creatives series where Alien Theory, also known as Derek answers a few questions about his contribution to the Alien fandom and what he likes about the films. He’s opted to do both Podcast and written interview.
Clara Fei-Fei: Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions, I really like your videos. They are so informative and fun to watch. Could you tell me what drove you to create your youtube channel?
Alien Theory/Derek: There was a period where I became obsessed with theory and explanation videos about Star Wars. There are so many talented YouTubers out there that cover the Star Wars universe and I’ve enjoyed their content immensely, though I started to wish I could see those types of videos, but covering the Alien universe. When I couldn’t find any, I decided to make a channel devoted to Alien myself. I wanted to explore certain things I’ve always debated about the films and I wanted to cover as much of the extended universe from the comics and novels as I could.
CF: How much work goes into making a video? How do you choose topics to report on?
AT: A lot of work goes into the videos from all different stages. I don’t know exactly why and when I’ll choose a certain topic but once I get excited about something I’ll begin plans for it, and I try my best to make sure there is a certain context already established within the videos on the channel. I keep a list of topics that I add to regularly but will only start writing a video once I figure out the best way to do it. I like including visuals that look like computerized security footage – or something like that – and those take a while to edit. Including stuff like that is important to me because it gives the videos a cool, Nostromo-esque feel. I trip on my words and mess up on recording the audio a lot so usually, I have to chip away at a 40-minute audio file removing botched sentences and frustrated expletives for a video that may end up being 8 minutes long. Each video can be very time-consuming to create but usually, I’m really happy with what comes out of it all.
CF: What do you like about the fandom? What do you dislike and wish would change?
AT: The Alien fandom is the most diverse of any fan-base of any franchise. Certain fans will feel very passionately one way or another regarding specific films in the series. That’s something I really love because it’s a reflection of the series itself: each film has a different genre and mood and resonates differently with fans. This leads to different ideas of what a proper Alien film should be and leads to very strong stances on the entries that don’t meet a fan’s expectations. People have had strong stances on the quality of Alien Covenant, and that is ultimately a good thing and can help shape the franchise to something everyone will enjoy, but I dislike the pure negativity that comes out of it. And I mean the really, really hateful stuff. It’s been a strange experience to me because on videos I’ve made about Covenant, I’ll receive some very nasty comments, and while they’re not directed at me personally, it’s very disheartening to be the middle-man between a fan’s hatred of a movie and the movie itself.
CF: Which of the movies or comics are your favourite?
AT: It is too hard for me to choose between Alien and Aliens as my favourites from the movies. Both are excellent in their own ways and they are landmark cinematic achievements. Don’t make me choose! Of the comics, I would have to choose Aliens: Labyrinth as my favourite. I have always been curious as to what would happen if scientists had the opportunity to study Xenomorph specimens, and the story of Labyrinth delivered on that prospect beyond all expectations.
CF: Which variation of the xenomorph is your fave?
AT: The “runner” alien from Alien 3 has always been a favourite. There’s something about seeing a xenomorph crawling on all fours like a dog (or ox) that makes it look even creepier.
CF: Which character is your fave?
AT: Ripley, without a doubt. A strong-willed, sensible, determined, and very human – very vulnerable – character. The weight of the entire universe is on her shoulders throughout the original four Alien films and she is fated to fall into these circumstances where she’s responsible for saving the world. She doesn’t march into it without hesitation, but she doesn’t cower from it either. She does what she does in each case because it’s the right thing to do. Ripley has a strong moral fibre and I think that’s very endearing.
CF: Which has been your favourite Alien Theory video to make/work on?
AT: Every time I upload a video on Youtube, it never fails that someone, somewhere, will write “first” in the comments within 30 seconds of it being posted. Obviously, this isn’t something unique to my channel and right at this very moment, there are an untold amount of people writing “first” in the comments of videos being freshly uploaded all over the world. I can’t explain such a phenomenon. But a few months back I did a video on the Weyland-Yutani corporate timeline, and the second I uploaded it, I jumped to the comments section of the video and typed “first.” I have never done that before or since, so I guess I was proud enough of the video to do that.
CF: Which is the most popular?
AT: The most popular video I’ve done is a video called “Alien Vs Predator: A Brief History of the Species’ Conflict,” which was one of the more context-setting videos that I aimed to do. It covered the original AVP comics as well the 2004 film. It’s gotten over a million views so I guess there are many out there who are curious as to why these two creatures fight. I never in my wildest dreams expected any of my videos to get that many views so I’m still in disbelief about that.
CF: What sort of things do you want to work on in future?
AT: I want to keep making videos for the Alien Theory Youtube channel as much as possible but I think other projects would be fun. I have a lot of ideas that I’ve been kicking around that I think could be fun. I’ve always wanted to create a podcast but for now, I have no immediate plans for one.